The Dean's Celebration of Excellence in Research

September 11, 2023 by Angela Ferrante

The University of Vermont and UVM Larner College of Medicine are delighted to announce the upcoming "Dean's Celebration of Excellence in Research," a weeklong celebration dedicated to showcasing the exceptional research endeavors of faculty, research fellows, and graduate students. Held September 18 to 22, 2023, this year’s series promises to be an extraordinary platform for academic discovery and collaboration.

The Dean's Celebration of Excellence in Research

The University of Vermont and UVM Larner College of Medicine recently hosted the "Dean's Celebration of Excellence in Research," a weeklong celebration dedicated to showcasing the exceptional research endeavors of faculty, research fellows, and graduate students. Scheduled from September 18 to 22, 2023, this year’s event series was an extraordinary platform for academic discovery and collaboration.

The Research Laureate Lecture, which took place on Monday, September 18, featured Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Sylvie Doublié, Ph.D. Doublié's presentation, "Erroneous DNA repair, genomic instability, and cancer," delved into her groundbreaking research. Dr. Doublié earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, focusing on the mechanism of aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases under the mentorship of Charlie Carter, Ph.D. She furthered her expertise through postdoctoral work with Stephen Cusack, Ph.D. at the EMBL outstation in Grenoble, France, and with Tom Ellenberger, D.V.M., Ph.D., at Harvard Medical School, where she studied DNA polymerase mechanisms. Joining the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics in 1998, her exceptional contributions earned her the 2022 Research Laureate Award from the Larner College of Medicine.

On Wednesday, September 20, the College hosted its first Research Rally. Featuring a slate of Larner and UVM experts, these Ted-style talks were designed to appeal to a broad audience—each segment lasted only seven minutes, giving the presenters a chance to prove their elevator pitch skills. Provost and Senior Vice-President, University of Vermont Patricia Prelock, Ph.D, kicked off the event, and Senior Associate Dean for Research, Kate Tracy, Ph.D. closed out the Research Rally with a talk of her own.

“Sharing and celebrating research is not just integral to our mission at the Larner College of Medicine; it's the heartbeat of our academic community,” stated Dr. Tracy. “By showcasing our discoveries, we hope to inspire curiosity, foster innovation, and create a culture of continuous learning.”

On Friday, September 22, the annual Stetson Lecture, presented by The UVM Larner College of Medicine and generously sponsored by John Stetson, UVM’56, M.D.’60, and Roberta B. Stetson UVM’57, featured Steffanie Strathdee, Ph.D., M.Sc., Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences and Harold Simon Distinguished Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. Dr. Strathdee, named one of TIME magazine’s Most Influential People in Health Care in 2018, gave a riveting presentation on her book, From Bog to Bedside: The story behind the first dedicated Phage Therapy Program in North America. 

Phage therapy, short for bacteriophage therapy, is a medical treatment that uses bacteriophages to combat bacterial infections. Bacteriophages are viruses that infect and replicate within specific types of bacteria, ultimately leading to the destruction of the bacterial host cell. They are natural predators of bacteria and can be found in various environments, including soil, water, and the human body. The concept behind phage therapy is to harness the natural antibacterial properties of phages to target and eliminate specific bacterial infections. In 2016, Strathdee's husband, Tom Patterson, became the first person in the U.S. to receive IV phage therapy for his antibiotic-resistant infection of Acinetobacter baumannii. During her talk, Strathdee detailed how she worked with scientists and regulators to utilize phage therapy to save his life. 

On Thursday, September 21, an awards ceremony celebrated the outstanding dedication of Larner and UVM researchers to advancing medicine and science. While all nominees demonstrated significant commitment to their work, a select few were honored for their exceptional contributions.

Dean’s Celebration of Excellence in Research Award Winners

Category: Clinical Trials
Winner: Associate Professor of Medicine Charlotte Teneback, M.D.

Category: Mid-career Investigator
Winner: Associate Professor Neurological Sciences Noah Kolb, M.D.

Category: New Investigator
Winner: Assistant Professor of Pharmacology Osama Harraz, Ph.D.

Winner: Assistant Professor of Medicine Sherrie Khadanga, M.D.

Winner: Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine Christian Pulcini, M.D., M.Ed., M.P.H.

Category: Research Mentor
Winner: Professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics and Biochemistry and Associate Dean of Graduate Education & Postdoctoral Training Christopher Berger, Ph.D.

Category: Senior Investigator
Winner: Professor of Psychiatry and Associate Professor of Psychological Science Hugh Garavan, Ph.D.

Category: Clinical Research Coordinator
Winner: Director of the Office of Clinical Trials Research and Assistant Dean for Clinical Research Administration Kim Luebbers, M.S.H.S., R.N.

Category: Scientific Research Staff
Winner: Senior Lab/Research Technician, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and Imaging & Analysis Specialist, Microscopy Imaging Center Nicole Bouffard

Trainee Award Nominees for Outstanding Research Publication

Winner: Evan Hoffman, Ph.D.; Graduate Student, Med-Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine             

Winner: Samuel Short, M.D.'23; Medical Student, Med-Hematology Oncology             

Winner: Elizabeth Corteselli, Ph.D.; Post-doctoral Trainee, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine     

Winner: Colleen Kerrigan, M.D.; Resident, Surgery           

Showcase Award Winners

Category: Best Medical Student Research Presentation
Winner: Samuel Aldous ‘24
Presentation: “Optimizing Infant Perioperative Medicine: Characterization of Awake Infant Spinal Anesthesia Using Surface Electromyography”

Runner-up: Keira Goodell ‘24
Presentation: “Investigating a Role for the Orphan Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Tie1 in Cellular Metabolism”

Category: Best Junior Graduate Research Presentation
Winner: Ally Morrissey
Presentation: “Endoplasmic Reticulum moves by hitchhiking on Golgi-derived vesicles”

Runner-up: Jamie Reulbach
Presentation: “Effects of Chronic Hypertension and Sex on Spatial Reference and Working Memory”

Best Senior Graduate Research Presentation
Winner: Shannon Prior
Presentation: “Metabolic Rewiring Promotes Metastatic Potential in STK11 Null KRAS-driven Lung Adenocarcinoma”

Runner-up: Jennifer Oshita
Presentation: “Communication Disability Accommodation Services in Early Adopting US Healthcare Organizations”